France has a resilient economy that harks back centuries. Indeed, France is one of the world’s biggest economic powers, taking the 5th place for the largest economies in the world.
Major players of the french economic landscape include services, agriculture (agriculture in France plays a bigger role than other European economies), livestock, the chemical industry, and of course, tourism. In fact, France’s tourism industry is so big, it represents almost 10% of the country’s GDP. France is the most popular tourist destination in the world, with more than 85 million people visiting each year.
According to the IMF, France’s economy is so good it had the 20th highest GDP per capita worldwide in 2012.
Even though they were hit by the late 2000’s recession, it bounced back quicker than most countries affected by it. The only year France’s GDP contracted was back in 2009. Even so, France has experienced a rather stagnant growth following those years, expanding for only 0.8% in 2013, 0.2% in 2014, though picked up in 2015 with 1.2% in growth. France has still ways to go about GDP growth, but it is already one big economic world power.
France’s Economy For The Expat
The expat who is looking to know more about France’s economy will find himself reassured. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it has “an enviable standard of living” and that “Inequality is not excessive and the country has come through the [financial] crisis without suffering too heavily,”
Not everything is rose-colored, though. France currently has a problem with employment. The official numbers throw that the 10.2% of the workforce, in unemployed. This rate is almost the same average for the Euro-zone, but it is a significant number by all means.
Many economy experts have differing points of view about the nature of the issue, but most say the labor market is the culprit. Some argue that there’s low demand for work, since France has a huge public sector. Some say there’s a recurring complaint from businesses. Seems like, in a nutshell, french workers have too many rights.
France is one of the countries with the strictest legislation of dismissal for open-ended and temporary contracts anywhere. It is too expensive for employers to hire or fire workers Insiders get high pay, job security and promotion prospects by law. The cost of labor to employers also adds social security payments much higher than in other countries.
This, in turn, makes employees, especially young ones, to get short-term jobs, or sometimes, none.
France’s Top 3 Regions For Economy
The social economic policies have promoted less economic disparity between other regions and is less higher than other European countries.
The biggest regions in terms of GDP come as follows:
Île-de-France ($845 billion GDP)
Hosting Paris, Île-de-France is the center of economic activity by a landslide. Tourism in Paris is one of the main contributors to this regional economy, receiving more than 30 million visitors annually. Other than that, one of the strongest economic activity comes from La Defensé business district.
Here, almost 60% of the workforce focuses on commerce and marketing services, while 30% works on non-market services (public administration, education, etc.)
Rhône-Alpes ($268 billion GDP)
A highly industrialized region, Rhône-Alpes is a part of the “Four Motors of Europe”, the other three being the Lombardy region in Italy, Catalonia region in Spain, and Baden-Württemberg in Germany.
It specializes in many industry departments like mechanical. light and high-tech engineering, and precision machining. For services, they make revenue from tourism in the Alps and education services.
The GDP per capita is higher in this region than the French average. Its main cities include Lyon, Vienne, and Saint-Étienne.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (200 billion GDP)
Including Niece and Marseille, this region relies mostly on tourism, being coastal. It also drives more than 30 million visitors a year and it’s a favorite region for tourists and expats alike.
Although being in line with the national average income, inequality is higher than other regions, while at the same time having the highest employment rate, at almost 90%.
Economy in France: Facts
|Information Type||France Data|
Gross Domestic Product PPP (GDP)
|US$2.737 trillion (2016 est.)|
GDP Per Capita
|US$42,400 (2016 est.)|
0.3% (2016 est.)
Exchange Rate Versus U.S. Dollar
|0.88 euro per U.S. dollar (Feb. 10, 2015)|
Real Annual Growth Rate
|1.3% (2016 est.)|
|9.7% (2016 est.)|
|Wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish|
|30.48 million (2016 est.)|
Labor Force by Occupation
Services: 75.7% (2013 est.)
|Machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism|
|US$505.4 billion (2016 est.)|
|Machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages|
|Germany 15.9%, Spain 7.3%, US 7.2%, Italy 7.1%, UK 7.1%, Belgium 6.8% (2015)|
|Germany 19.5%, Belgium 10.7%, Italy 7.7%, Netherlands 7.5%, Spain 6.8%, US 5.5%, China 5.4%, UK 4.3% (2015)|